Many Quebec hospitals will close operating rooms during the Common Front and FIQ strike days planned for this week. The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) says it is unable to quantify the exact number of non-urgent surgical procedures postponed, but estimates based on “theoretical hypotheses” that 450 should be postponed per day of work stoppage. Patients have received the dreaded call: they will have to wait — again — before going under the knife.
Marc Lalonde, 50, underwent an operation for kidney stones at the Quebec University Hospital a month ago. The surgical team was unable to pulverize his kidney stone. She installed a drain while waiting for a next attempt. The intervention was supposed to take place at the beginning of this week, but was postponed until December 20.
“When I was told that I was being delayed, I really wasn’t in a good mood because with the drain, it’s really not comfortable,” says the man, who has to take various medications for the condition. pain. “Normally, I would be off work, except that I am self-employed. I can’t afford to stop for two months. »
Marc Lalonde says he “understands the pressure tactics” of the strikers. “I’m a little on their side on that. We get along [sur le fait] that the health system in Quebec is Kabul. They are still not paid too much for what they do like job. But of course they have to think that there are effects. » The “real world” is suffering the repercussions of the walkouts, he recalls.
Danièle Drouin was scheduled to have surgery on November 21 at Pierre-Le Gardeur hospital in Terrebonne. Her intervention for a gallbladder stone – measuring 3 centimeters – was postponed until 28. “I’ve been waiting for a year and a half,” said the 58-year-old woman. One day more or less, back where I am…” His feelings are mixed in the face of pressure tactics. “I don’t really know how to deal with this. I’m not frustrated. I understand their point of view. » But she hopes not to have to go to the hospital in pain for emergency surgery.
How many operations canceled
Many healthcare facilities plan to close operating rooms in anticipation of walkouts this week. The Royal Victoria Hospital and the Montreal General Hospital will have two fewer and the Lachine Hospital, one less, indicates the McGill University Health Center, which manages the hospital centers. The Montreal Children’s Hospital will close one or two rooms, depending on the day. At the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center (CHU), approximately 5 out of 9 rooms will be open.
The Quebec University Hospital, which has five hospitals, for its part plans to postpone more than 130 non-urgent operations. At the Haut-Richelieu hospital and the Charles-Le Moyne hospital, 104 were reported, according to the CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre.
To respect the maintenance of essential services, operating theaters must operate at 70% of their capacity. It is on the basis of this percentage that the MSSS estimates that approximately 450 non-urgent surgical procedures are postponed per day of strike. In Quebec, 1,500 operations are carried out daily on average. “The figures available at this stage are based on theoretical hypotheses and could vary considerably depending on the situation actually observed in each establishment,” underlines the MSSS.
The duty asked health establishments how many non-urgent operations had been postponed during the previous strike days (November 6, 8 and 9). Ten CIUSSS and CISSS provided precise figures, which totals 438 operations postponed. Three others said they had not postponed any because they had prepared their schedule in advance based on the walkouts. Seven establishments responded by indicating the number of operating rooms closed or schedule adjustments made.
Remember that more than 160,000 Quebecers are waiting for a surgical operation, including nearly 14,000 for more than a year. “These are such big numbers that the impact of the strike is proportionally not that important for the moment,” judges the Dr Patrick Charlebois, president of the Quebec Surgery Association. Normally, operations are also canceled due to a lack of staff or hospital beds. “But it is certain that we need a resolution to this conflict. »
The Dr Charlebois says it is “in solidarity” with the strikers — like the Federation of Specialist Physicians of Quebec. “The working conditions of health workers must be improved so that health careers are attractive, so that we can recruit, so that we can save our public health system. »